Most people with rheumatic diseases both can and want to work. Many people are already working but more people could do it if the circumstances where right.
The Swedish Rheumatism Association and our Nordic fellow organizations agree upon that everyone is equal and that everybody has the right to decide over their own body and life. The goal is a society for everyone and to achieve this, political initiatives are required in many fields and in in this specific case political initiatives concerning labour market policies.
Our primary objective in a Strategy for work for people with rheumatic diseases is to make decision makers understand how important it is that people with rheumatic diseases both can and want to work. Secondly we also initiate and take part in different projects which in diverse ways support the possibility for people with rheumatic diseases to get work, keep their work or be rehabilitated back to work.
To achieve this the Swedish Rheumatism Association and our Nordic fellow organizations have intensive dialogues with their respective governments. We or our umbrella associations are members of respective Governments disability councils. We have separate meetings with ministers we wishes to approach on this issue, some are members of official governmental inquiry committees, receive reports from governmental inquiry committees with the right to comment officially and we also have extensive informal contacts with governmental officials, groups and committees.
In the booklet “Five Steps to work” we explain and describe the steps that makes it possible to manage to get a job even if you have a serious chronicle disease such as rheumatism. The 5 steps are: 1 Healthcare, early diagnosis and treatment; 2 Medical rehabilitation, personal medical rehabilitation plan and guarantee; 3 Social circumstances, access to adapted physical activity, right to information about one's diagnosis, compensation for additional expenses; 4 Sick leave and health insurance legislation, increased flexibility and predictability within the social insurance system, financial security in the system and 5 Access to labour market, opportunity for people with disabilities to out working while retaining their financial security, adapted and flexible working hours, adapted workplaces. All of them need to be in place and each step involves necessary conditions for a successful result for each individual in purpose to get a job.
In all countries our associations have initiated and taken part in different projects whom all in some ways support the necessary conditions within the different five steps.
In Sweden the project OSTEOARTHRITIS COMMUNICATOR was a good support for step 1 Healthcare. The work in both Sweden and Denmark for National Guidelines for RMDs is another good example for step 1.
In Denmark they have launched the “OA” project (in Danish called osteoarthritis), a project with training and patient counseling to people with osteoarthritis, where one of the teams is restricted to people with jobs or people who are on sick leave from their work. It is a good support for step 2 Medical rehabilitation. In Norway they are preparing to work with Rehabilitation as a “Flagship initiative” and will increasingly connect this versus the “back to work/stay in work” also in this context. A good support for step 2 is also the results in teh EUMUS.NET project, where both Norway and Sweden have been active partners.
In Norway the project Sjukt Aktiv Sick Active is a good support for step 3 Social circumstances.
In Sweden the project PRAXIS New arenas for teleworking was a good support for step 4 Sick leave and health insurance legislation.
Finally in Sweden the project Bemanning med plus, STAFFING COMPANIES – A PATH TO EMPLOYMENT was a good support for 5 Access to labour market.
An individual seeking work can receive special introduction and follow up support, both support and help ahead of a new employment if he/she has a reduced working capacity because of a functional impairment. They can also receive support during the employment itself.
Finally all indications say that employment is on the agenda the coming election in Sweden like it was the latest election in 2010. The unemployed amongst people with RMDs is still unacceptable. Therefore our “Five Steps to work” is an important part of our Swedish election strategy 2014. “Five steps to work” is of great interest when we meet representatives from all the political parties. It will also be of great importance in the coming EU-parliament election, in the Danish election 2015 and the Norwegian election 2017.
That it is necessary that decision makers and authorities in the Nordic countries who are responsible for step one to step five to cooperate and work together. In the end the most important thing strategically is that people with RMDs get access to the labour market.
Disclosure of Interest None declared